Two Parents With Dementia: How Do Caregivers Cope?
Carol Bradley Bursack
My mom and dad both have dementia. I am all alone taking care of them since my sister passed away I have no one to help me. I get sad and frustrated with them both. How do I deal with my feelings?
These are powerful words from one Agingcare.com forum participant. It’s a “cry from the wild” which will touch the heart of most caregivers. Many of us feel alone when we are trying to care for our aging parents and there are no siblings to help, or if there are siblings, they can’t or won’t help. When we have one parent who has dementia, it is hard. When we have two, it is often nearly unbearable.
My dad had dementia from surgery. Mom developed a more subtle type of dementia, the type they used to call “senile dementia.” Now it’s called “organic brain disease.” Whatever the type – Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Pick’s disease, dementia due to Parkinson’s or just plain “organic brain disease,” which sort of applies to them all – it’s painful for the caregiver. Sometimes the pain is so raw and isolating that the caregivers become more ill than those they are caring for.
Statistics vary, but upward of thirty percent of caregivers die before those they are caring for. Some of those are adult children, lonely and depressed, isolated and frustrated, often torn by guilt. These caregivers can develop cancer, commit suicide, or have heart problems and other ill health that can likely be traced to the stress of caring for their loved ones.